This past week the DAV MN sent a delegation of 18 members out to Washington, D.C. to learn and advocate. Once again, the event was a success! The members in attendance were able to learn more about our legislative priorities nationally, who we are as an organization and put that knowledge into action with meeting with Representatives and Senators.
The even kicked off with training sessions at the conference. These ranged from a three-hour in-depth look at what we are advocating for and what the status is of our priorities. The subject matter can be dry, but the DAV National Legislative Staff did an excellent job of explaining the current situation.
Beyond explaining the current situation, this meeting focused on building a strategy for moving forwards. While there are many intricacies involved I saw it really boil down to two things: We must organize and we must act. If we can find new ways to get this information and identify the members of our community with a passion for these issues, we can be successful.
The training was followed up by a group of our members going to The Hill to meet with the staff of each member of the House of Representatives from Minnesota. It was a LONG day but we got it done. During these meetings we gave the staffer an opportunity to let us know what their member was working on for Veterans (some a lot, some very little). We also presented them with a list of vital legislation that we would like to see their member “sign-on” as a sponsor.
The meetings with staff are a valuable part of this trip, often we get fixated on the Reps. and Sen.’s themselves, when much of the work is done by staff members. This was also a great opportunity to see where each member had Veterans on their unofficial “priority list”. If you were to ask them in person they would all say something along the lines of, “Veterans are a top priority”. However, when you sit in their office and ask for their list of work for Veterans and see it is long, short or even non-existent it can tell you a lot.
I will not be sending out an office by office evaluation of what, if anything, these Congressmen/women are working. I do strongly encourage you to reach out the offices of those that represent you and find out what side they are on (doing something versus saying something). That is a major step in how we will become more effective as an organization in holding our politicians accountable.
The MN DAV members then attended DAV National Commander’s testimony before a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees. The turnout was terrific with the room being overfilled with DAV members from across the country. It was beyond standing room only. When we can get that kind of involvement we send a powerful message to those in D.C.
The final event was our annual DAV Congressional Breakfast which we hold each year in one of the rooms used by the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, scheduling was all thrown off as Rev. Billy Graham was laying-in-state that day. We were able to meet with Sen. Smith, Rep. Peterson, Rep. Emmer and Rep. Paulsen. This was a great event and I hope more of our chapter’s will choose to send delegates in the future. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule a time for me to brief you chapter on State and/or
National issues I can be reached at 651-788-3186 or [email protected]
You can sign-up to receive alerts on important Veterans issues at: https://www.dav.org/learnmore/legislation/join-action-network-take-action/
Trent C Dilks
Disabled American Veterans, Dept. of MN